A state appellate court panel Tuesday upheld a man's conviction for the July 2003 stabbing deaths of a couple in their 70s inside their Monrovia home, which he ransacked in stealing many of their belongings.
The three-justice panel from California's 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected Alfredo Montez Valenzuela's contention that there were errors in his Los Angeles Superior Court trial for the robbery-murders of 78-year-old Clark Shaum and his 70-year-old wife, Bernice.
Valenzuela was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after apologizing to the victims' family. Clark Shaum was stabbed 113 times and his wife was stabbed 40 times and beaten to death after Valenzuela cut a screen on a bedroom window to get into the couple's home on July 26, 2003.
Valenzuela had told police that the victims were "like family" to him. His deceased father was a longtime friend of Clark Shaum.
"When the police interviewed defendant on two separate occasions, defendant admitted killing the Shaums, described how he did it, and why he did it," the panel found in a 40-page ruling.
Valenzuela's girlfriend, Shawna Lenora Robles, was tried separately and was also convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
In an October 2010 ruling upholding Robles' conviction, a state appeals court panel rejected her contention that her involvement in the crime was minimal, though jurors found she had not personally inflicted any of the fatal stab wounds.
Robles waited outside the window of Bernice Shaum's bedroom while Valenzuela stabbed the woman, then was let into the house by her boyfriend where she hit Clark Shaum with bolt cutters and Valenzuela stabbed him, according to the October 2010 ruling in Robles' case.
"Following Mr. Shaum's death, defendant and Valenzuela rummaged through the Shaums' home and garage and stole many of their belongings, including Mr. Shaum's truck. Defendant left with the loot in the truck. She thereafter gave some of the stolen loot away, attempted to pawn some of it, forged and cashed one of Mr. Shaum's checks and paid off her storage fees," the justices found in Robles' case.
The California Supreme Court refused in January 2011 to review the case against Robles.